Passenger demand in the Middle East soared 18.1 per cent in January boosted by the strength of regional economies, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said yesterday.
Iata described demand as “the strongest growth for any region”.
“The Middle East carriers are benefiting from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel,” Iata said.
“[This is] supported by the performance of internationally trading industries and key economies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Capacity increased by 15 per cent in January compared with the same period last year. Load factor rose to 81.1 per cent, the highest for any region.
Separately, Middle East carriers also reported the fastest cargo growth in January, growing 10.7 per cent year-on-year, Iata said on Tuesday. Cargo volumes grew on the back of growth in Europe and other regions.
Globally, Iata said that international passenger demand in January was up 7.8 per cent compared with the same period last year. Capacity was up 6.8 per cent and load factor was 78.3 per cent.
“[The year] 2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions,” said Tony Tyler, Iata’s director general and chief executive.
However, Mr Tyler added that the sector remained vulnerable to external factors.
“Rising geopolitical tensions around the world have the potential to cast shadows on this optimistic outlook,” he said.
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